Michael Rouland (Georgetown University)
Send message to Convenor
- Room 112
- Saturday 12 October, 14:00-15:45 (UTC+0)
Author:Emir Kulov (American University of Central Asia)
Paper long abstract:
The analysis of empirical findings on both the endogenous and exogenous determinants of electoral mobilization as it evolved and manifested over the past two decades in Kyrgyzstan indicates that party-based campaign strategies tend to entail a varying combination of sporadic practices of electoral clientelism and media visibility and marketing strategies. On a theoretical level, this moderately contrasts the original propositions stressing the contextual effect of politico-institutional uncertainty on the proclivity amongst parties in developing democracies to employ a mix of both programmatic and clientelistic strategies to garner electoral support. As an examination of election campaign patterns observed from 1995 onwards demonstrates, the extent and manifestation of electoral clientelism exemplifying broader practices of informal politics in the region are not evidently straightforward, as seminally contended in a 'clans politics' model. The purported effect of informal practices on elite re-structuring and competition and protest and electoral mobilization tends to be rather conditioned by a robust effect of both electoral institutions and the broader political environment.
In effect, the prevailing campaign strategies prioritized by major parties for voter mobilization purposes, following the shift to a closed-list proportional representation system in 2007 and significant political changes associated with 2010 popular uprising and ensuing regime change, observably involved a varying combination of infrequent practices of electoral clientelism, including, most notably illicit practices of vote-buying, media marketing strategies, some organizational investments and the misuse of administrative resources favoring the incumbency. Mitigated by the presumed effect of a national party list voting system, there has been a growing tendency amongst new inchoate parties to resort systematically to vote-buying practices, especially during local election campaigns, or alternatively invest in some organizational infrastructure such as operating temporary regional party offices that similarly to vote-buying and infrastructure development services proved fairly effective in accomplishing electoral goals given the absence of reified party brands and reputations. In the meantime, building successful party-based campaign strategies evidently, and as a matter of emergent pattern influenced considerably by the PR voting system, proved to be associated with considerable investments toward enhancing party visibility by displaying high-cost political ads on TV, radio and newspaper outlets, organizing billboard campaigns and distributing campaign materials.
Author:Yunus Emre Gürbüz (Kyrgyz-Turkish Manas University)
Paper long abstract:
Kyrgyzstan is accepted as the most democratic country in Central Asia. After its independence Kyrgyzstan had five presidents, two of whom were ousted by popular revolts, when they sought to shift to a more authoritarian rule. Kyrgyzstan upholds democratic multi-party elections, and it is ruled by coalition governments, which are unique in Central Asia. This study aims to answer, why or when illiberal presidents are being ousted. It is also worth to mention, what mechanisms were operational in maintaining the stability after successful revolts without falling into chaos. These questions are sought to be answered by analyzing the post-independence period of Kyrgyzstan through published materials and interviews in a multidisciplinary approach. In answering the first question it is argued that regionalization based upon geographical divisions, traditional clans, multi-ethnic demographic structure, post-independence election system and liberal economic reforms with privatizations resulted in the fragmentalization of power creating a plurality in Kyrgyzstan. Additionally central authority is not in a position to consolidate is power by distributing state revenues among loyal elites to develop extensive cliental relations, which urges the rulers to preserve their power in a permanent process of conflict and bargaining. Before both successful popular uprisings, presidents were trying to centralize their power, which alienated most of the elites, who in turn united with the disenchanted local people to overthrow the incumbent president. It is argued here that a popular revolt is only successful, when the president's policies are against both the elites as an outcome of limited power sharing and the local people suffering from pauperization. The vertical bonds between the elites and the local people, and then horizontal links of national parties led by the elites help the protests to turn into a broader, nationwide issue spreading to the capital and deposing the president. Thus, successful revolts started as bottom up local movements, but they were nationalized, when they were associated with more organized elite's interests. This study brings top down and bottom up approaches in order to obtain a more holistic understanding of Kyrgyzstan's successful revolts and established stability afterwards. It may present an example about popular revolts removing illiberal regimes and preservation of plurality and stability in a relatively democratic country.